BRING YOUR LIFE INTO FOCUS
Smartphones, email, television, satellite radio, text, chat, web streaming – our modern world provides us with a complete interconnectedness that is full of possibility. If you want to reach anyone anywhere, at any time, you can do it in a matter of seconds. This global integration has allowed us to strengthen long-distance relationships and improve international business profits, but today’s technology is not without its side effects.
THE DIGITAL DILEMMA
Starting from a young age, children are exposed to technology – getting their first cell phones as early as age 6. 1 Among this younger tech-forward generation, there is a sweet spot. The 2015 report “Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection,” published by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), found that students who used computers and learning technology moderately had better learning outcomes compared to students who used technology rarely. However, the students who used technology too often at school performed far worse. 2
Researchers from the University of California suggest that this constant presence of technology may make it harder for us to think that we used to. UCLA professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center Patricia Greenfield believes that the daily use of technology may have helped to improve our visual skills, but it has taken its toll on our ability to analyse and practice critical thinking?
For most of us, this effect can be seen in having a difficult time concentrating on even the simplest task. With the phone ringing off the hook, emails flooding your inbox, and chat messages pinging on your computer, it’s no wonder that it’s harder to focus than it used to be. To add insult to injury, many workers experience more stress in the workplace than ever before, which researchers have confirmed may be a risk factor for autoimmune disorders and even heart disease.
Stress, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating have a compounding effect. That is to say, as stress and fatigue take over, both at work and at home, it creates a vicious cycle. Soon enough, it feels nearly impossible to maintain the healthy habits you have worked so hard to create. Eating well, exercising, resting, and enjoying fulfilling work and rich relationships can quickly fall by the wayside.
AN ANCIENT HERB WITH MODERN BENEFITS
It’s clear that more technology isn’t the answer. While it would be wonderful to create yet another new software system or app to organise the messages and media flooding in on a moment-by-moment basis, adding more technology to the mix will only put a Band-Aid on the digital overload problem.
This is one instance where a present day problem can benefit from an old fashioned solution.
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb and concentrated plant extract cultivated for just this purpose. Considered one of the most powerful herbs used in Ayurvedic healing, India’s 5,000-year-old medicinal system of natural healing, Ashwagandha can help to rebuild and restore. Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera Dunal, is a known rejuvenator in the face of stress and exhaustion and may also be commonly referred to as “Indian ginseng.’ With a growing body of scientific evidence to support its use, Ashwagandha is an old-world herb with new-world application. While dozens of studies support the herbal potency of this ancient Ayurvedic remedy, with suggested benefits related to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, skin cancer, diabetes, and more, some of the most notable effects of Ashwagandha can be seen in severe cases of stress and anxiety.
In 2012, researchers from the Asha Hospital in Hyderbad conducted a prospective, randomised doubleblind, placebo-controlled study on 64 participants with chronic stress. When an Ashwagandha supplement was taken for two months, stress levels decreased by 44 per cent and anxiety and depression levels decreased by 72 per cent. 6 Researchers summarised that “high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life” and can safely be used by adults under stress.
The highest-concentrated form of Ashwagandha available has more than 11 completed and eight ongoing clinical studies to back its use. Ashwagandha has shown potential to reduce the oxidative brain cell damage related to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, alleviate and manage diabetes, block the growth of skin cancer cells, and protect the heart against dangerous levels of oxidation.7,8,9,10
THE PERFECT PAIR
Taking Ashwagandha on its own can have a powerful stress-relieving effect on the body, offering protection against unchecked cortisol levels that are known to lead to chronic disease. Yet Ashwagandha becomes even more potent and protective when taken with another renowned anti-stress herb – Rhodiola Rosea, known as the “depression herb” in Russia for its popular use among aging and exhausted politicians.
Rhodiola and Ashwagandha have something in common: The herbs are adaptogens that can help to bring the body back into balance, while buffering the stress response.
Ashwagandha taken as a daily adaptogen can support the body’s natural ability to regulate a number of critical systems, including the neurological, endocrinal, reproductive, and energy production systems. In the same way, Rhodiola as a daily adaptogen can help to improve mental and physical performance, with natural benefits to relieve depression by supporting the release of serotonin in the brain. 11 The combination of these rejuvenating herbs taken with the amino acid L-theanine, found commonly in green tea, can help to keep the body relaxed but alert.
If you have forgotten what it feels like to look forward to a brand-new day, reducing stress levels and increasing relaxation could put the pep back in your step. These invigorating herbs remind us of what it looks like to live life fully – working hard, playing harder, and spending time with the ones you love without a worried mind to weigh you down.
i, “Most American Children Have a Cell Phone by the Time They Turn Seven. ” Child Guide Magazine
2.”Students, Computers Learning — Students’ Performance OECD Education Statistics.
3. University of California – Los Angeles. “Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?” ScienceDaily.
4 Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol 2011 JanMar;24(1 Suppl):51S-54S
5. Curr Cordiol Rep. 2015 Sep;17(9):630. doi: 10.1007/sfl886015-0630-8.
6. Indian j Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 343).’ 255-262.
7. Ahmed ME Javed He Khan MM, Vaibhav K, Ahmad A Khan A Tabassum R, Islam F, Safhi MM, Islam F. Attenuation of oxidative damage associated cognitive decline by Withania somnifera in rat model of streptozotocin-induced cognitive impairment Protoplasma 2013 Jan 23,
8. Anwer T, Sharma M, Pillai KIC Khan G. Protective effect of Withania somnifera against oxidative stress and pancreatic beta-cell damage in type 2 diabetic rats. Acta POI Pharm 2012 Nov-Dec 69(6):1095-101
9. Nakajima H, Fukazawa K Wakabayashi Y Wakamatsu K Imokawa G. Erratum to: Withania somnifera extract attenuates stem cell factorstimulated pigmentation in human epidermal equivalents through interruption of ERK phosphotylation within melanocytes. J Nat Med 2013 Jan 25
10. Reuland DJ Khadem S Costle CJ Irwin DC McCord 1M, Miller Bf, Hamilton KL. Upregulation of phase Il enzymes through phytochemical activation of Nrf2 protects cardiomyocytes against oxidant stress Free Radic Biol Med 2012
11. Nord J Psychiatry 2007;61(5):343-8